As American education struggles to achieve new competencies for an emerging information age, popular reforms remain locked in industrial-era metaphors. Testing for basic skills, teacher professionalism, and school-business collaboration assumes that schooling prepares workers with skills for predictable roles. Meanwhile, computers and related technologies make possible low-cost information that is transforming learning and jobs. Hierarchical organizational structures that subordinated most employees have given way to flatter, flexible teams. Quasi-autonomous decision making by knowledgeable professionals extends to more and more workers. When businesses simply offer schools a few extra resources, they stunt interactive partnerships that enable youth and business cultures to learn from one another. Old metaphors embedded scarcity and competition; new ones highlight choices made possible by automated production and cooperative coordination using new information technologies. New meanings of learning and earning through cooperation, choice, and shared social purposes reconnect effective schools to productive workplaces.



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